Belfast Telegraph

Doctors vote to strike over hours

Doctors have voted to strike over what they have branded dangerous working hours.

A landslide 97% of 1,000 non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) have urged the Irish Medical Organisation to escalate its campaign to force the Government to reduce the working week.

Eric Young, a ssistant director of industrial relations at the IMO, said doctors are worried and angry.

"The concerns which they highlighted about the danger posed to hospital patients and to themselves continue to be ignored," he said.

"There is now a strong appetite to step up the campaign to force the HSE and the Department of Health to do what everyone knows must be done - implement the European Working Time Directive and stop the dangerous and cruel exploitation of NCHDs in Irish hospitals."

Meetings are to be held which are expected to prepare the way for a campaign of industrial action in Irish hospitals before the end of the month.

The IMO has claimed that some hospital doctors are being forced to work up to 100 hours a week.

Mr Young hit out at Health Minister James Reilly who expressed sympathy with the doctors working excessive hours.

"When you read his comments in support of NCHDs, you'd think he was still President of the IMO. But he's the Minister for Health now and he can fix this chaotic situation with the stroke of a pen but he won't do it," he said.

The IMO and the HSE will hold talks on Wednesday to prepare for industrial action.

Doctors have committed to providing emergency cover during any strikes or work stoppages.

The IMO has called for an immediate end to shifts in excess of 24 hours and a subsequent agreement to bring doctors' rosters in line with the European Working Time Directive (EWHD) by the end of 2014 and reduce the working week to an average of 48 hours.

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